Following their uneventful shoreleave at Starbase 14, the crew of the Washington is sent to find the cause of disappearances of miners Mabron III. When they arrive, Capt Aishel Enor sends people into the mines to find out what caused the disappearances. Instead of finding clues, they find dead ends. Everything is dust, silence and emptiness. The away team splits up into four groups: LtJG Samson J Herat stays with the runabout; LtJG T'Kai and Lieutenant Commander Deke Franklin go one direction; LtJG T'Stala, LtJG Malcolm Caparzo, Ens Diego Nunez go another. T'Stala, Caparzo, and Nunez find the control room. However, there is a cave in that separates Nunez and T'Stala from Caparzo. Caparzo begins to construct a bomb that will clear the cave in. When T'Stala and Nunez try to find a way back to the surface, they come together with Franklin, T'Kai, and Caparzo. However, an explosion is rigged to go off and T'Stala bravely tries to save LCdr Franklin and T'Kai, however, she is unsuccessful. The explosion is thought to kill Franklin, T'Kai, and T'Stala. However, upon further investigation, they are not dead. They are, in fact, being held prisoner at a Vinarian Syndicate crime city somewhere in Gorn space.
Meanwhile, Capt Enor receives a visit from Andreas Gosopoulos, the security chief for the mining colony at Mabron III. He urges the Washington to leave the space immediately, telling them that all the disappearances centered around the mines, something Menapoulos, the leader of the colony, left out. When Enor learns that three of her people disappeared due to Menapoulos's tight lips, she instructs the helm to set a course following an ion trail that LtJG D'Espall Ranor found. The trail leads into Gorn space, and the Washington must cross borders the Federation promised to never cross again.